Free Press Journal

Formalise 2003 Indo-Pak ceasefire agreement: Basit


Abdul Basit

Bengaluru: Accusing India of violating ceasefire at least 400 times, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit today said it is better to formalise the 2003 Indo-Pak agreement to end firing at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir region. “According to our estimation, from this side (India), at least 400 times violations have taken place (at LoC in Jammu and Kashmir region). As many as 40 people have been martyred in Pakistan,” Basit said at a meet-the-press programme here.

“Instead of accusing each other, it is better to formalise the 2003 (ceasefire) agreement. This proposal was kept before India, and (we) expect that at some point of time India accepts that proposal, so that this problem ends,” he said at the meet organised by the Press Club of Bengaluru. Maintaining that Pakistan wants stability and no firing at the Line of Control, he said Islamabad hopes India accepts ‘good’ proposals presented by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“We want there should be stability at the Line of Control and there should not be any firing. The proposals that our PM has presented are good and we hope that India will consider it,” he said. Refuting allegations that Pakistan is abetting terrorism, Basit said his country is the victim of this menace and incurred huge economic losses, besides lost human lives and security personnel.

“Pakistan is suffering and terrorism is a big issue for us. Since 9/11, Pakistan has lost 60,000 innocent lives including 5,000 of our security personnel. According to World Bank reports we have incurred USD 120 billion losses so far,” he said.

“There can’t be any other country in the world, I can bet on that, which would be more interested to eradicate terrorism because Pakistan is the victim of terrorism. It serves no purpose for us to really get into that,” he said.

To a query on former Pakistan President General Parvez Musharraf’s remarks that Islamabad had trained and supported LeT to fight in Kashmir, Basit said rather than stepping into the past, it would be apt to look ahead.

“All militant outfits have been proscribed in Pakistan, and have been banned. Pakistan is committed not to allow terrorism to spread its wings anywhere in the world, so we are committed to that. Rather than to step into the past, let us look forward. That is my message to you,” he said. In an interview to Dunya News, Musharraf had admitted that Pakistan supported and trained terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1990s to carry out militancy in Kashmir.

“In 1990s, the freedom struggle began in Kashmir…At that time, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and 11 or 12 other organisations were formed. We supported them and trained them as they were fighting in Kashmir at the cost of their lives,” Musharraf had said.

On reports about persecution of Hindus and demolition of Hindu temples in Pakistan, Basit said there is no organised action against Hindus in his country, except that there may be some individual cases, which are found anywhere in the world. “Constitutionally, all minorities are protected. There is no problem. As a Muslim majority country, we do respect all our minorities… there are many prominent Hindus who have risen to top levels in Pakistan… There is no collective organised way against Hindus in Pakistan. There may be some individual cases here and there and such cases you find everywhere in the world and Pakistan is no exception,” he said.

On former Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani’s admission that Iran received nuclear technology from Pakistan, which the country was claiming was the work of a rogue network, Basit said Pakistan as a nuclear power knew its responsibilities and had put in place the control systems in last fifteen years. “We have come a long way since then, and in the last 10-15 years, we have put in place very strong systems including our export control system, that is second to none. Yes, Pakistan as a nuclear power knows its reponsibilities very well,” he said.

Rafsanjani, in an interview, had confirmed that Iran received nuclear technology from Pakistan, which has been all along claiming that its supply of technology and material to Iran, Libya and North Korea was the work of a rogue network run by the country’s former nuclear czar, Abdul Qadeeer Khan. Replying to a query regarding Pakistan’s relations with China, Basit said it is clearly and purely for Pakistan’s economic development and not against any third country. “Our friendship and cooperation with China is for our mutual economic development, and is not against any third country. It is clearly and purely for our economic development,” he said.

Basit further said Pakistan never raises objection to India’s trading relations with China. “After all, India also has trade close to 160 billion (USD) with China, so Chinese also are investing in India. So, we never raise objections to that. So, I think this is how the new world is and we should focus on such mega projects,” he said.

Replying to a question on Pakistan losing UN Human Rights Council election, he said the loss should not be viewed as negative – it is a democratic process and Pakistan accepts it. “For God’s sake… some countries win and some lose… Some of your friendly nations also lost in that elections – therefore don’t take this in that (negative) context. There were many contestants – we lost… It is a democratic process and we accept it,” he said.

To a query on reported denial of entry to Indian envoy to Pakistan at Karachi’s Elite Sind Club despite getting invitation, Basit said he does not know the details of the episode, but said he too faced similar situations in India. “There are problems, no doubt, but I am sorry I do not know the details of this episode. I can tell you I have also faced similar situations in India,” he said.

As per a report in Indian media, Karachi’s one of the oldest institutions Sind Club did not host Indian envoy T C A Raghavan and his wife for a function which was held on September 26 despite sending an invitation in advance. “That (denial of entry to Indian envoy to Pakistan) is unfortunate…,” he added.